Charlotte Bronte Challenge Text Essay - Paige Stevenson

A painting of Charlotte Bronte

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will." This was a quote said by the famous author Charlotte Bronte, a woman writer that had seen joyous memories with her brother and sisters, had a complex education that she strived to strengthen, and she also wrote two novels that have both been acclaimed classic work of literature.

"It was April 1820, and a new clergyman was coming to Haworth" (Reef, 1). This new clergyman just happened to be the father of the great author, Charlotte Bronte. Patrick Bronte moved there with his family, to be the clergyman, or reverend of Haworth England, a very small town on a moor. Because Patrick's wife had died, and he had frail children, Charlotte and her sisters and brother were not allowed to play with the town's children. He thought they were dirty, and would make his children sick. So, Charlotte and her siblings amused themselves by playing with each other, on the moor. The moor was very windy and cold, and home to many wildlife and plants that Charlotte learned their names, and played among them. But, sometimes on the moor, it rained, causing the children to have to stay inside. So, Charlotte would write little poems about her daily life. She and her sisters also wrote diary papers that they then shared with each other. "Diary papers were like snapshots of family life" (Reef, 15). This started Charlotte's love for writing, but that love increased when "one night, in June 1826, the Reverend Bronte returned from a trip to Leeds, bringing Branwell a set of toy soldiers" (Reef, 20). Branwell was Charlotte's older brother, but he was a nice older sibling and gave a toy soldier to Charlotte and two of her sisters, Emily and Anne. This trio then played almost every single day with these wooden soldiers, making a made-up world, and complex characters for each story. All three siblings loved this game they played, that they all wrote stories about their individual soldiers. Sadly, these works of writing cannot be found, because they were either burned or destroyed. This was a wonderful childhood for Charlotte, but her father would soon end it.

Top Left: Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge. Top Right: Roe Head. Bottom Left: Pensionnat Heger. Bottom Right: Constantin Heger.

There wasn't a very good school in Haworth, England, so Patrick Bronte decided to send Charlotte and Emily to the Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge, in August 1824. This school was owned by William Carus Wilson, and he was not a nice man. At his school, "he employed cruel methods to teach Christian humility," (Reef, 7) and when doing this, he ended up hurting the girls. He left them malnourished, by giving them barely enough food to survive, and whenever they did even a little thing, he applied his cruel methods of whipping, locking in cupboards, cutting hair off, or no meals. In 1825, Charlotte's two older sisters died of tuberculosis while attending the Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge, and her father took Charlotte and Emily back home, in fear that they too, would get tuberculosis. But in, "January 1831, Charlotte journeyed in a covered cart to Roe Head School" (Reef, 20) where she met her two lifelong friends Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. At Roe Head, Charlotte was very excited to learn and turned into a vigorous learner that made her finish as one of the top girls in her class. After four years of being a student at Roe Head, Charlotte got a position as the grammar teacher there, also at the same time the school was being renamed to Dewsbury. Charlotte's last bit of schooling was at a school introduced to her by her friend Mary Taylor called "the Pensionnat Heger, a girls' boarding school in the old parts of Brussels" (Reef, 63). Her aunt paid for her to attend. But this wasn't a happy school year, because Charlotte returned back home because she had fallen in love with her teacher Constantin Heger, who "didn't reciprocate Charlotte's affections" (www.bronte.org.uk). Though some of her school years may have been rough, and heartbreaking, they inspired her in her next big chapter of life.

Jane Eyre

Back when Charlotte was growing up and living, it was frowned upon for women to do any sort of writing. Women were supposed to stay home, take care of the family, and do the cleaning and cooking. But there were women writers in Charlotte's days. They would just create a pseudonym for themselves that was a man's name. This is what Charlotte did. After her days at Pensionnat Heger, she had to take care of her sick father at home. While doing this, she wrote poems and even made a whole novel. She really liked this book she wrote, and decided to send it to an editor. So "she packaged it and mailed it to Smith Elder and Company, 65, Cornhill, London" (Reef, 103). This happened to be the work of classic literature who know as Jane Eyre. George Smith, the publisher, really liked it, and he told Charlotte he would publish it. Although, he didn't really tell Charlotte. He told her pseudonym, Currer Bell. She was extremely happy, and on October 19th, 1847 her book was published to the public. It was received very well by the public. For example, "George Henry Lewes said, 'it is an utterance from the depths of a struggling, suffering, much enduring spirit'" (Reef, 112). Jane Eyre was basically an autobiography of Charlotte's life. Jane, the main character enduring the struggles of a school similar to the school on Cowan Bridge, and shared experiences almost exactly like Charlotte. Thrilled by the response the public gave her on Jane Eyre, Charlotte wrote another book called, Shirley. "Shirley was the kind of book that Mary Taylor liked best, because it dealt with social problems" (Reef, 152). Shirley didn't receive as much attention as Jane Eyre, but it still made under the title of a work of classic literature.

Sadly, this great author died March 31st, 1855 just after she was married to Arthur Nicholls on June 29th, 1854. She was in the early stages of pregnancy. Although this was a terrible, heart-breaking moment in the history of literature, the world continues to share the books she wrote, by translating Jane Eyre into hundreds of different languages, and using it as a learning opportunity or just a good read. This author will always linger in history's heart.

Works Cited

"Charlotte Brontë." Charlotte Brontë. Web. 09 Apr. 2017. <http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/bronte/cbronte/index.html>.

Charlotte Bronte. Digital image. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/CharlotteBrontePortrait.jpg>.

Clergy Daughters School of Cowan Bridge. Digital image. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. <http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/02/12/02/2120223_95f2cbd6.jpg>.

Constantin Heger. Digital image. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Constantinheger1.jpg>.

"Family and Friends - Charlotte Brontë." The Bronte Society. Web. 09 Apr. 2017. <https://www.bronte.org.uk/the-brontes-and-haworth/family-and-friends/charlotte-bronte>.

Haworth, England. Digital image. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. <https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2817/12441038214_3d9a2ab368_b.jpg>.

Jane Eyre. Digital image. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Jane_Eyre_title_page.jpg>.

Pensionnat Heger. Digital image. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Pensionnat_Heger_plaque.jpg>.

Reef, Catherine. The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Boston: Clarion, 2012. Print.

Roe Head/Dewsbury. Digital image. Web. 6 Apr. 2017. <http://s0.geograph.org.uk/photos/05/59/055901_015e34d8.jpg>.

Credits:

Created with images by AnnaER - "flowers plant purple" • AnnaER - "flowers plant purple"

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